Availability of public toilets is a key element for getting out and about regardless who you are. We all have to go sometime. Accessible public toilets have their own Australian Standard. It spells out how to design it and what fittings go where. But does an accessible toilet solve all our toileting issues? Thinking more broadly than people with limited mobility is important if we are to be inclusive. Perhaps it’s time take a universal design approach and re-think the whole business of public toilets.
Katherine Webber’s paper explains where the design of public toilets are letting some people down. She discusses the taboos, policy and legal barriers in several countries. Public toilets are where we perform private activities. If we feel vulnerable or unsafe, we avoid them and this could restrict our everyday activities. Webber lists the many issues people found with public toilets and they go beyond those of wheelchair accessible toilets. She proposes that a universal design approach be taken to the design and placement of public toilets.
The title of the paper is, Everyone, everywhere, everyday: A case for expanding universal design to public toilets.
Abstract: Public toilets are spaces that can benefit from the application of universal design processes. Research conducted as part of a Churchill Fellowship found that the current design and provision of public toilets are failing many different population groups. A range of barriers means that people’s access to toilets can be restricted, which impacts how and when they can use the public spaces that the toilets are located in. Centring the needs of a diverse range of user groups in the design and delivery of public toilets can support access and inclusion. This article proposes that applying the ‘Public Toilet Design Principles’, would expand universal design to public toilets in Australia.
You can find more peer reviewed papers from the upcoming conference in May 2021 on the Griffith University website